The coastal region of Normandy in northern France may be known for its cider, camembert and conquests, but in the past decade or so the music festival has become an increasingly important component to its contemporary culture.
Yes, beyond the Bayeaux tapestry and pebbled beaches, its festival scene has begun to thrive and provide a strong alternative to the scale of the capital’s international giants and its more glamorous counterparts in the Mediterranean south.
Though the list of festivals in the northern French region is ever-growing, we've collated a handful of our favourites to act as a useful starting point. Whether you're considering adding a dose of music to a cultural trip of history and cheese, or are looking for an alternative beyond the bigger names in the European circuit, this guide aims to help map out some of the principals in this burgeoning scene.
Cabourg, Mon Amour
Lineup: Folamour, Macadam Crocodile, The YD, Nelson Beer, Moussa
Once a favourite holiday spot for the influential French writer Marcel Proust, the pretty 'Belle Époque'-style seaside town of Cabourg is now a chic weekend getaway for many Parisians, and home to the charmingly named Cabourg, Mon Amour.
Popular with a hip and young demographic, the festival veers towards fresh Francophone talent in the realm of electro-pop, house and disco. It also has a distinctly intimate feel, stripped of the circus and theatrics popular among so many festivals in favour of simplicity: two stages, a couple of bars and record stalls, and a load of friends partying on the coast.
When & where: 28-30 June 2019, Cabourg.
Lineup (2019): Angèle, Suprême NTM, Mogwai, Tears For Fears, Limp Bizkit, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Interpol
Set in the majestic grounds of the Renaissance castle Château de Beauregard from which it takes its name, this festival has over its ten years become one of France's, let alone Normandy's, biggest festivals, with over a hundred thousand attendees in 2018.
Personified by the legendary but fictional character of John Beauregard, Festival Beauregard has a wholesome and quaint aesthetic, with garden games and cocktails complimenting a largely international bill of artists that finds a pleasing balance between popular and underground music.
When and where: 2-5 July 2020, Cellettes
Rock In Evreux by GHF
Lineup: Bob Sinclar, Purple Disco Machine, Skindred, Shaka Ponk, Razorlight, Boulevard des Airs, Diva Faune
Though its name suggests a festival dominated by guitar bands, Rock in Evreux has seen a mixed bag including The Prodigy, Claptone, DJ Snake, Gojira and Peter Doherty grace its hippodrome stages since its birth in 2017. In 2018 it partnered with the neighbouring Green Horse Festival to up its scale, and as such has begun to turn heads as a festival with grand ambitions, as its epic closing firework display not so subtly suggests.
When and where: 28-30 June 2019, Evreux
Jazz sous les pommiers
Lineup: Electro Deluxe, Angélique Kidjo, Joshua Redman, Theo Ceccaldi, Fatoumata Diawara, Thomas Dutronc et les Esprits Manouches
In this case, the name really does give it away. Jazz sous les pommiers ('under the apple trees') has showcased both French and international jazz artists since the 80s. This year, on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, the festival is setting up a Franco-American education exchange with young musicians from The Roots of Music association in New Orleans.
Expect a strong kaleidoscopic mix of artists who push the boundaries of our contemporary understanding of jazz, as well as a strong local feel and plenty of cider stalls set up in this pretty cathedral town.
When and where: 24 May - 1 June 2019, Coutances
Pete The Monkey
Lineup (2018): Parcels, Romare, Her's, Voyou, Macadam Crocodile, Cosmo Sheldrake, Vladimir Cauchemar
Pete The Monkey is a boutique festival held in a picturesque forest clearing just walking distance from the beach. A balance between eclectic and trendy lineups and a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere are key to this festival's popularity, as is its heart warming story. Whilst volunteering at the Jacj Cuisi monkey sanctuary in Bolivia ten years ago, Louis Dumas caught sight of a monkey named Pete washing dishes in the stream. He caught it on film, and after the video went viral Louis and his brother co-founded the event with the aim of donating its proceeds to the Jacj Cuisi sanctuary, resulting in Pete The Monkey's festival debut in 2012.
Six years later, the festival continues to bring a refined and relevant lineup with bigger crowds whilst maintaining its original intimacy.
When and where: 11-13 July 2019, Saint-Aubin-Sur-Mer
Papillons de Nuit
Lineup: Orelsan, Zazi, Kendji Girac, Maître Gims, Bigflo & Oli, Kungs, Vandal, Panda Dub
A staple of the Normandy festival scene, Papillons de Nuit has across its near twenty years filled the small, green town of Saint-Laurent-de-Cuves with a growing number of festival goers in the tens of thousands. In the past couple of years the festival has focussed on the strong pool of French and Francophone artists in the current pop and rap sphere, with the likes of Orelsan, Maître Gims, Bigflo & Oli and Kendji Girac heading up this year's edition.